The BCCM/DCG public collection is the only culture collection worldwide specialized in diatoms, the most species-rich and ecologically important group of algae. However, other microalgae interesting from a scientific or applied perspective are also included in this collection. Strains can be kept as safe deposits or public deposits. These latter are available worldwide as research or reference material for both, scientific institutions and companies.
The BCCM/DCG Diatoms Collection is hosted by the Laboratory for Protistology & Aquatic Ecology (PAE, Ghent University, Belgium), internationally renowned for its research on diatom taxonomy, evolution, ecology and extended knowledge of complex diatom life cycles. The interactions between the host laboratory and the culture collection are mutually beneficial. Whereas the host laboratory is indispensable for the correct and detailed characterization of the diatom strains and extremely valuable for the expertise which is needed for long time storage, BCCM/DCG is specialized in culturing and (cryo)preserving strains which were extensively studied by the host laboratory and providing microalgae with minimized genetic drift which will be used as start material for new and innovative investigations.
This collaboration has resulted in a unique collection of model diatoms for fundamental and applied research. More recently, research including other microalgae has become a focus at the host laboratory, and the scope of BCCM/DCG has widened accordingly to include these algae as well.
Microalgae deposited at BCCM/DCG were used in the following research topics which are addressed using a range of different approaches, including morphology, DNA sequences, transcriptome and genome studies, ecophysiological studies, crossing experiments, pedigree analyses, etc.:
- population genetics
- speciation and (cryptic) species diversity
- niche divergence and evolution
- competition and facilitation
- diatom-bacteria interactions
- molecular basis of the diatom life cycle
- species screening and growth optimization for aquaculture
Scope of the biological material
The BCCM/DCG collection was originally initiated and developed by Dr. V. A. Chepurnov (former PAE member) since 2000. The collection currently consists of more than 500 strains belonging to over 60 species most of which are cryopreserved. All strains are living monoclonal cultures that can be grown in standard liquid culture media (see also Mann & Chepurnov, 2004).
Most diatoms have an obligatory sexual stage in their life cycle, knowledge of this life cycle is vital for the long term maintenance of diatom cultures. Therefore, information on mating system, cardinal points in the life cycle and valve measurements is present for almost all species, making the BCCM/DCG culture collection unique in its kind. The majority of diatom strains in the collection are selected based on their ease of use for experimental manipulation, the other microalgae have mainly been chosen for their known traits which are key for industries based on aquaculture, biotechnology and ecotoxicity.
The main purpose of the culture collection is to make diatoms and other microalgae strains available for both academic and industrial partners. Many of the strains/taxa are or have been intensively studied by the host lab members and their collaborators. Their research is mainly focused on diatom genomics, cell and life cycle, determination and comparison of (eco)physiological properties, ecological interactions, and diatom population genetics, evolution and diversity. Because of this, there is a substantial knowledge and background information available for almost every microalgae strain existing in the BCCM/DCG collection. Additionally, references of scientific papers in which particular microalgae strains have been studied are also given.
BCCM/DCG is ISO 9001:2015 certified for accession, control, preservation, storage and supply of biological material and related information in the frame of public deposits and safe deposits.